Iran and the Passages to the
Post-Cold War Era
Whether the nature of Iran's foreign policy is changing in a significant way is a matter of debate among experts on Iran. What these experts must also consider is what opportunities and/or difficulties the passage of the Cold War presents for the pursuit of foreign policy restructuring in Iran. Expectedly, the coming of a new post-Cold War era, aptly compared by a historian to tectonic shifts, 1 has fueled a ferocious political and intellectual debate on the nature of post-Cold War world politics: What will be the dominant form of conflict and antagonism now that the systemic conflict between communism and capitalism has seemingly reached a conclusive result in favor of the latter? And how do we characterize the process of transition to the new era? The latter question touches on the issue of historical periodization, which is vitally important for our purpose of contextualizing the topic of our inquiry in this chapter. Such a contextualization will demonstrate the need to rethink the Cold War, its process of termination, and Iran's peripheral yet important contribution to this process and its aftermath. These cannot be understood unless we debunk the conventional interpretations of the place of Iran in the (post) Cold War condominium.
The narratives on the end of the Cold War usually relate this to the fascinating changes in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union that brought the reign of communism to an inglorious end. According to the stereotypical interpretations, the Cold War was by nature a zero-sum game in which ultimately one side lost and the other side won. 2 This interpretation has been put forth by numerous journalists and academics alike; their views have often converged on the common theme of a new world global order led by the unilateral power of the United States. 3